Thursday, May 12, 2011


We are knee deep in assessments, AP Exams, Regents review, and the budget. If we could harness all of the stress that everyone is under and convert it to usable energy we could probably power the Town of Camillus for a month. Hang in there!

A dozen students and I had the unique opportunity to be invited to Governor Cuomo’s “People First” speaking tour held at Onondaga Community College earlier in the week. His topics included a tax cap, ethics reform, and same sex marriage. As a superintendent I learned that the Governor is not going to stop until he has placed a cap on taxes at 2%, period. School residents would be able to vote over the 2% cap with a 60% majority vote. This means that as soon as the budget vote is over on May 17, that we will immediately begin planning for 2012-2013 and beyond, with the 2% tax cap figure as a boundary. That will be fun. Not.

The students learned that the Governor is an excellent speaker and that he can fire up a crowd over all topics, both popular and unpopular. Almost all of our students were able to shake his hand and have a few words with him after the speech and one of our students took the opportunity to ask the Governor what his stance was on hydro-fracking. How awesome is that! To his credit the Governor responded that hydro-fracking is a controversial topic that he was not prepared to take a stand on either way at this time until he receives more information. Fair enough I thought, and he treated our student with dignity and respect. A learning experience for all.

Our Student Dignity Team met earlier in the week and after much discussion and presentations we have decided to use the Olweus Bullying Program as our research-based anti-bullying program. This program will now be formulated to be District wide and will incorporate responses from our bullying survey as well as other proven programs that have been successful in our different buildings. This program will also allow us to comply with the Dignity for All Students Act that needs to be enacted by September of 2012. Our next steps will be to lay out the planning for implementation and to also take a look at policies that may adjust our “Codes of Conduct”. While there is still much work to be done, selecting a program is a major first step.

For a variety of reasons our Parent Teacher Associations and Organizations are hurting for volunteers. A down economy usually is the major cause as more parents have to devote additional time to work, second jobs, and child care. If you are able and willing to help, please contact Liz Mossotti at 315-487-2467 or by e-mail at

With recycling still a big topic you might wonder why it sometimes appears like we do not recycle. I asked the exact same question when I saw plastic recyclables being dumped into the same trash can as the regular garbage even though we had separated the plastics into the “blue bins” that have become synonymous with recycling. After a little rummaging around (pun intended) we learned that our garbage removal service takes all of the trash and recyclables to their facility where it is re-separated and sent to the dump or to be recycled. While I have not been given a good enough explanation for me as far as why our separating the trash in house isn’t good enough, please understand that our refuse is separated and recycled at “the plant”.

We continue to struggle with residency cases. In a down economy people who have lost jobs or people who just don’t like the school district that they are living in try different ways to have their children attend our schools. Our Board policy clearly states that in order to attend our schools a child MUST reside in the District. We do have some cases where children are homeless and living with relatives in the District and some students who have an aunt, uncle, or grandparent in the District who have full custody but any other situation is a violation of our Board policy. If you suspect situations of children attending our schools who do not live in the District, please let me know so we can investigate and take action if we are able. Thank you.

There was a major change to the transportation regulations recently that calls for schools to fill school buses in so much as possible by NOT providing a bus stop for students who chronically do not ride the bus. We will follow-up with a letter, but essentially what this means is that if your child drives or is driven to school on a regular basis we will not “hold a seat” on the bus for them without advanced notice to our transportation department. This will allow us to better route our buses to fill them and to run even more efficiently. We will also be altering how we transport parochial and private school students in response to this change as well, and we will be providing information to parents of parochial and private school students before the end of the school year.

Last evening was the High School Honor’s Dinner. What a wonderful night. Social Studies teacher Sam Dance gave an inspiring and thoughtful address and parents had a chance to relax and congratulate their children for their academic successes.

Tomorrow evening is the Senior Ball. My wife and I figure we have chaperoned seventeen of these so far and we have had a wonderful time at each of them. I am always proud of the behavior of our students on this night, and I am also very thankful for all of the parents who volunteer to help out at the after party held at the high school. I remember walking into the after party last year and the temperature outside was close to 80 degrees. We will have another beautiful night for our students this year. If you have a son or daughter attending please remind them (without nagging of course) to make good decisions, to have fun, and to celebrate being young.

Sorry for the long post. Have a great weekend and talk to all of you soon.